s Porn Addiction Real? This Woman Makes a Compelling Case | Men's Health Magazine Australia

Is Porn Addiction Real? This Woman Makes a Compelling Case

Most guys watch porn, and there’s no shortage of it on the internet. But the sheer variety of online smut can be overwhelming, and for some people, obsession is just a click away. Erica Gaza, the author of Getting Off, is the newest voice to claim that porn addiction is a true medical condition. She says her new book is an intense view of her own personal journey through her obsession and recovery.

“At 30 years old, at 24, even at 12, it was impossible for me to think about sexual pleasure without immediately feeling shame,” Garza told The Cut. “I felt bad about the type of porn I watched. I felt bad sleeping with people I didn’t like. I felt bad because of the thoughts I feasted on when I was having sex with people I genuinely loved.”

While there’s no denying what Garza went through is both real and harmful to her psyche there’s no real consensus in the scientific and medical community that porn addiction is real.

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Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., and assistant professor of social psychology at Ball State University says that overuse of porn doesn’t fit the model of a typical addiction.

Neuroscience research has revealed that what goes on inside the brains of so-called porn “addicts” is not at all what you would expect from people who truly have an addiction,” Lehmiller wrote in Men’s Health.” Some people do indeed have problems regulating porn use—there’s no disputing that. It’s just that their problem doesn’t seem to be “addictive”—like, say, drugs or alcohol—in nature,” he wrote.

Still, Psychology Today points out that people who self-diagnose as porn addicts often report a similar set of symptoms, including intense feelings of shame and guilt, just like Garza describes. Studies show that guilt is often tied to a strict religious background, which makes people more likely to self-diagnose as “addicted to porn.”

Googling a few dirty videos doesn’t mean you’re running the risk of becoming addicted or obsessed. But if you’re someone with a certain personality, it may be worth keeping an eye on your habit, Lehmiller says.

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“Although porn is not linked to negative outcomes overall, there are certain subsets of people for whom it may be problematic—and more research is needed in order to help clarify for whom and under what circumstances porn is linked to harm,” Lehmiller wrote in Men’s Health.

As for Garza, she no longer views herself as an addict thanks to a 12-step program, an understanding partner, yoga and therapy. She says that she still views porn when she wants, just with a more “healthful” outlook.

“I realized that I’m not alone, that it’s OK,” she told the New York Post. “I just wanted to stop feeling the shame aspect of it, and I succeeded.”

This article originally appeared on Men’s Health

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